Why Snow In Eastern Europe Is Orange Right Now

The snow that fell over the weekend was a mixture of snow and sand from the Sahara Desert.

Those who live in the Eastern European mountains are no stranger to snow, but this weekend even they were baffled by what came down on them.

This weekend, across Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova, orange-tinted snow fell from the sky, resulting in an eerie landscape that looked more like something on Mars than Earth.

According to meteorologists, the phenomenon has been documented in the past and is believed to occur roughly every five years.

When sand from the Sahara Desert, on the northern coast of Africa, gets caught up in the atmosphere, it mixes with snow and rain before falling back down to earth. Usually, the concentration of sand isn’t even enough to notice, but this year it was abnormally high, resulting in the almost post-apocalyptic mountainside scenes.

People were even reporting being able to taste the sand, or that it was getting in their mouths as they skied. The sand-dust mixture was even visible from space, in a satellite image taken by NASA on Friday. The photo depicted a brown streak running through the clouds above Eastern Europe.

The orange snow didn’t stop winter sports fans, however. Over the weekend hundreds of photos of skiers and snowboarders gliding across the sandy mountainsides appeared on social media, baffling people worldwide.

While the orange snow was an Eastern Europe exclusive, the sand from the Sahara caused problems elsewhere too. On the Greek island of Crete, the sand was so thick in the air that the entire island was trapped under a yellow-orange haze.

Though the island — not to mention Eastern Europe — is hundreds of miles from the Sahara, the dust has been known to travel much, much further. In the past, the dust has been able to make its way across the Atlantic and settle into the southern United States, almost 4,000 miles from its original resting place.